House Republicans create process for selecting speaker nominee, starting with a two-thirds support threshold
Caucus adopted the new rule unanimously. The threshold for support of a speaker candidate is reduced to three fifths if it’s down to two members and two thirds can’t be achieved by either of them
Let’s recap. Speaker Joe Straus has decided to retire. The House GOP caucus has voted unanimously to move Texas politics away from the Texas Constitution and mirror the way the Swamp (Washington, D.C.) works. Because, you know, it works so well. To a rational person, it would appear that the Oust Straus folks in Texas have won the day. Key word: rational. From the headquarters of Oust Straus:
HOUSE GOP CAUCUS FAILS TO ADOPT MAJORITY-VOTE POLICY
In a stunning failure Friday, the Texas House GOP Caucus adopted a process for selecting a speaker candidate that is out of step with the Republican platform.
In recent months, GOP activists have urged House Republicans to adopt a process whereby they would unite around a candidate for Speaker. The move is designed to end a decade-long practice in which a minority of Republican legislators have partnered with Democrats to elect the chamber’s leader.
In September, the State Republican Executive Committee adopted a resolution stating “[T]he Republican Party of Texas expects Republican House Candidates in 2018 to indicate to the Republican Primary voters whether they will support the Republican Speaker candidate who wins the majority of the votes in the Republican Caucus.”
Until Friday, the only process proposed publicly by a working group of GOP legislators fit the party’s call by using a majority-vote threshold in order to select a nominee for Speaker. However, according to reports, only a small handful of the legislators voted against a last-minute amendment to raise the threshold to two-thirds and to allow for potentially unlimited rounds of balloting.
In other words, Republican legislators failed to honor the requests of GOP activists and voters to allow a majority of Republican lawmakers to nominate the next Speaker of the Texas House.
Braddock also had this:
Of course, it is still true that none of this would be binding on the members once they walk out onto the Texas House floor to cast their vote for speaker.
“If a member chooses to go their own way at that point, that’s their cross to bear,” said one Republican.
That’s because of that pesky thing called the Texas Constitution, which says this about electing a Speaker of the House:
Article 3, Section 9, (b) The House of Representatives shall, when it first assembles, organize temporarily, and thereupon proceed to the election of a Speaker from its own members.
Pretty amazing to me that the same people that scream every day about draining the swamp in Washington, D.C. want to move it to Austin, TX.
What does this mean in reality, assuming that all of the Republicans stick together and ignore the traditional interpretation of the Texas Constitution, which allows all members a vote regardless of their party affiliation? In practical terms it means that a minority of the elected representatives in the state could control the House. Ross Ramsey wrote about this in the Texas Tribune back in August.
Analysis: The tyranny of the minority
Changing the rules, however, could put someone other than an establishment Republican like Straus in the speaker’s chair. Whichever GOP faction controls, the next speaker could be “representing” a House where 102 members — the rest of the Republicans and the 55 Democrats — wanted someone else in the top spot.
That seems contrary to the name of the institution. If you’re comparison-shopping, it’s a move that would make the state House more like the federal House, which already relies on parties to choose their leaders. The Democrats, in particular, would have no investment in the political leadership of the House if the leader was chosen by a Republican bloc: That’s a recipe for stalemates.
When Ramsey wrote that, he used the Empower Texans preferred method of a simple majority of GOP members. And he assumed that there would still be 95 GOP members at the beginning of the 86th session. With the rules adopted using the 2/3rd / 3/5th process, it would take 64 or 57 members, either of which would still be a minority of the 150 House members.
Some would say that the tyranny of the minority is an apt description of what has become of Texas government because so few Texans participate in the primary process. If people really, truly want change, then the majority of Texas voters will have to start voting in the primary. Or, if you really, truly want a mess, vote for the Democratic ticket. After all, if you want it to be a swamp, why go swamp lite?